Unions, Pension Wealth, and Age-Compensation Profiles

Steven G. Allen, Robert L. Clark

NBER Working Paper No. 1677
Issued in August 1985
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies, Public Economics

This paper examines the effect of unions on both the magnitude and distribution of pension benefits. Our empirical results show that beneficiaries in collectively bargained plans receive larger benefits when they retire, receive larger increases in their benefits after they retire, and retire at an earlier age than beneficiaries in other pension plans. As a result, the pension wealth of union beneficiaries is 50 to 109 percent greater than that of nonunion beneficiaries. Just as wage differentials within and across establishments are smaller among union workers, benefit differentials within and across cohorts of retirees are smaller among union beneficiaries. This results from the smaller weight given to salary average in determining initial benefits and the larger percentage increases given to those who have been retired the longest under post-retirement increases. The more compressed benefit structure under unionism causes the union-nonunion compensation (wages plus pension contributions) differential to decline more quickly than the union-nonunion wage differential over the life cycle.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w1677

Published: Allen, Steven G. and Robert L.Clark. "Unions, Pension Wealth, and Age-Compensation Profiles," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 39, No. 4,(July 1986), pp. 509-517.

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